What Employers Need To Know About The Class of 2013

November 14 2013 by Borja Saldana

In order to attract and retain the finest young talent, employers must understand how the two million-plus Millennials entering the workforce this year plan to seek employment, what they expect from their employers, and what it’ll take to hold on to them. The “Class of 2013” survey, conducted by Achievers, an employee success software and services company that strives to increase employee engagement and performance, and ConnectEDU, a technology company committed to helping students transition successfully from high school to college and college to career, asked more than 10,000 students about their previous work experience, where they plan to look for jobs, how they like to be motivated, and their overall feelings about job prospects, among other things.

Nearly all respondents graduated this year or will be graduating with a post-secondary education and searching for full-time employment within the next two years.

“The goal of the survey is to equip employers with an understanding of the expectations that this graduating class has when entering the workforce,” says Hally Pinaud, a workforce and university solutions product marketing manager at ConnectEDU. “This understanding allows companies to better recruit, retain, and inspire their entry level workforce.”

Without an understanding of the perspectives, wants, and needs of tomorrow’s leaders who are entering the workforce today, employers will have difficulty appealing to potential top talent, Pinaud adds. “Once Millennials have been successfully hired, employers need to understand this new crop of talent in order to fully and effectively incorporate them into their corporate culture. Understanding their expectations and their perspectives is key in creating appropriate programs and guidelines.”

Here’s what employers need to know about the class of 2013:

Prior Experience

As it turns out, the class of 2013 doesn’t have much work experience. About 46% of this year’s respondents have never had a full-time job; almost 10% haven’t held a part-time position; and 41.4% never interned.

This means that office etiquette and politics are foreign concepts to about half of all Millennials entering the workforce—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The study says, “a new hire without expectations in those areas is more likely to accept your workplace norms as the status quo. Nonetheless, to ease their acclimation into the workforce, it is important for human resource professionals to explain workplace concepts and expectations beyond the specific responsibilities for a role.”

How They Plan To Search

Recruitment and job search methods have changed significantly in recent years, as social media has become increasingly popular. Forty-five percent of Millennials plan to use LinkedIn as a primary source for their job hunt. That’s 800% growth from 2010, when a meager 5% said they’d use the social networking site.

“Millennials recognize LinkedIn is one of the best online tools to help jump start their professional careers,” says Razor Suleman, founder and chairman of Achievers. “We’ve been amazed to see how the use of LinkedIn has increased [enormously] over the last four years.”

LinkedIn allows students to research companies and find open positions. They can also connect with recruiters and search profiles of executives and employees to get a better picture of the company, he adds.

However, the majority said they are still relying on the old fashioned approaches.

About 87% of respondents said they plan to go straight to the source and submit an application directly to the company. Seventy percent said they will search for jobs at a networking event, while 65% said they’re most likely to utilize a career services center on campus.

“Employers need to be savvy about the channels that students frequent; all too often, they think all job seekers look for opportunities the same way, but Millennials are much more plugged in to things like campus resources,” Pinaud says. “Employers also need to invest in building their brand. Since students apply directly to the company, or respond in career fair scenarios, you need recognition to see the best traction. We see tremendous success for employers who focus on communicating their culture through the right mix of media and campus outlets. That’s especially true for employers who draw on their employee base to act as ‘brand ambassadors’ for new hires. Alumni are amazing at this, by the way.”

Though social media sites still aren’t the primary tool for job searches among students, there’s a noticeable and significant shift in that direction. Almost 8% percent plan to use Facebook to find employment, while 5% said they’ll use Twitter.

“Social media is where a lot of the conversation is happening, and that is why it is more important than ever for companies to shift their recruiting strategies online,” Suleman says. “It is a cost-effective way for companies to recruit and secure top talent.”